Saturday, February 23, 2008

Kaleidoscope progress

After a couple days of computer/Internet wars (moving a website to another web host company) sewing the pieces of this kaleidoscope together was such a refreshing experience. Like turning the body of a literal kaleidoscope, the pattern comes together like eye candy.

I'm amazed at how such a simple concept can create such delightful results. The next step is to figure out what fabric to use as a background, then add wedges and corners to make it square. I'll add a border or two, maybe even put in the leftovers somehow (that is the only drawback of these -- lots of bits of leftover strata). Then I need to figure out if I want to sandwich it back to back with Kaleidoscope 3, which is the same fabrics (pieces cut from different angles), or make two separate quilts.

I will likely make many more of these!

Friday, February 22, 2008

So many quilts, so little time...

The Kaleidoscopes are being sewn together, so I'll post photos when they are finished.

In the meantime, here is a Ruth McDowell modification that I did a couple years ago. It is a favorite of all who use my main floor bathroom... where it hangs on a dark, grayed-green wall. She uses busy fabrics in the background which gives her quilts less depth. I used plainer fabrics and made the lilies pop out a bit more.

I really like this method. This is from her book, Pieced Flowers, and
uses inset corner seams. I've done the curved seam patterns too, and find them very satisfying and not difficult. In Canmore, I drafted my own pattern using her method and will try to get at it soon.

This close-up shows a bit of the quilting. I put my blocks together vertically. In the book, they are set like view through a window with sashing between them.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kaleidoscope 2 - Day 3

Last night I was able to add another unit to each of these two kaleidoscope quilts. While I was having a great time with my own quilts, the others in the room were enjoying themselves even more. Three of them are experienced quilters. One had never sewn before, never mind made a quilt.

I will post all their efforts when they are finished, but have to show off this beginner's work. She has three of the units pinned in place (on a piece of flannel so she could roll it up and take it home). Her fabrics make this one look like a piece of jewelry!

I'm hoping to finish mine this week. My next task is to make another strata, because my next unit is a bit larger than the others and I could not get two sets out of the one piece of strata. Ho hum stuff, but putting the pieces on the wall is exciting!

This one is Jen's quilt. Remember, ignore the pins. When sewn together, these will look even better. Jen calls her quilt "funky" but the rest of us called it an incredible first attempt!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kaleidoscope 2 - Day 2

Yesterday I added the next round of pieces to these two Kaleidoscope quilts. Again, I was able to get two sets of piece #4 (there are 5 and you work backwards) from my strata, so had two different "looks" for each quilt.

I put each set on each quilt and this is my decision. I can hardly wait to add the next set. This quilt is so much fun to make, like a puzzle without the picture to tell you the outcome or a mystery with optional endings!

Today I hope to add at least one more set of pieces, and hope that my strata will be long enough. If not, I've enough fabric to make some more.

This quilt cannot be sewn together until all the pieces are laid out. I have to take it to a class tonight, so it is heavily pinned on an old sheet so it will transport. If those pieces fall off, it would likely not be too much fun trying to figure out where they belong.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kaleidoscope 2

I made a Ricky Tims Kool Kaleidoscope quilt last year in a class, then decided to make another one this week, only smaller (15" pattern instead of 18"). This quilt is made from striped fabric called strata, that you make yourself. You make pairs, put them right sides together, and cut six pieces from each pair. This creates mirror images. Unpredictable but great fun!

This time I made my strata the same length the larger size required, but not quite as wide. It turned out that the first pattern piece for the 15" size was small enough that I could get two sets of six out of one set of strata.

I turned the pattern around for the second set and cut out six more mirror images. This picture is of both sets put on the design wall. The pattern piece is stuck up there too.

Once I cut out the other pattern pieces, they will be sewn together, but the picture is of the middle section of my kaleidoscope quilt, or in this case kaleidoscope quilts. Both are from the same strata but what a difference in the way they look just from rotating the pattern piece 180 degrees!

Actually, if I can do this with all the pieces, I will make two quilt tops and sandwich them back to back. That way I can turn the quilt around for variety, or even hang it like a flag so both sides can be seen, depending on the vantage point.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Taming my wild animals

Every now and then I feel like I'm living in a fabric zoo and all the animals have burst out of their cages and are wandering around creating havoc in my house and interfering with my best-laid plans!

Yesterday, after several hours of hard work and even more difficult decisions, the animals are back in their cages, with labels. Well, most of them. I moved all my finished tops to one shelf, my PhDs to two more shelves (PhDs are Projects Half Done), and put those in the planning stages (fabrics, sketches or patterns, kits, etc.) in three rolling shelf units tucked under the extension leg of my computer desk. I've got my current project on the design wall and in a large drawer labeled 'current project.'

The only critter still roaming are some fabrics in six piles on a small sofa. I'm trying to decide which color combination to use for a "Double Irish Chain" -- the pattern I selected for my mother-in-law. She has beige and pale green in her bedroom. I've not seen it yet, but my husband says it is very blah. So I've laid out a green/beige combo and a burgundy/beige combo. I'm tending toward the burgundy because the fabrics are livelier and she likes that color. Anyway, this wild one is behaving for the moment, mostly because we seldom sit on that sofa! When anyone needs it, I will have to crack my whip again!

So those zoo animals are under control, but there are still a few of the paper kind sprawling on my desk when they should be rounded up and put into their places. Biggest problem is figuring out which critter goes where... and the next issue is that they seem to multiply in the dark when I'm not looking. Has anyone invented birth control pills for paper? This would make millions.

In the meantime, while I'm in the mood, I must remember where I put that whip...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bucket Bag

After an intensive class in Canmore, an intensive week of unexpected events, and two relatives asking me to make them quilts, it feels really good to complete something, even if it is small.

This one is called a "Bucket Bag" and was easy and fun to make. The pattern came from J's Quilting blog, found after seeing one like it on Wanda's blog (she is a wonderful exuberant quilter), and the fabrics were part of a 3" charm package that I bought at Hancocks online. The pattern called for smaller squares, but I used them as is and got a nice sized bag.

It looks good against this large print of an ocean vista, so maybe I should have lined it with something water-resistant --- thus a good beach bag. But I live far, far from a beach, and right now it is -30 C. Yikes.

However, the sun is shining, and if I really use my imagination, and just squint my eyes a wee bit, all that snow could look like white sand...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Now I need some advice

My mother-in-law called yesterday. I thought it would be to wish me happy birthday, but she began the conversation with, "How much would you charge to make me a quilt?"

After some conversation and a little teasing from me, I told her, "Well, since you are my mother-in-law, and since I kind of like you, I'll just make you one."

She said, "Oh, I was hoping you would say that."

So now I'm side-tracked again. All those delicious projects that are underway or in my head are set aside and I'm trying to figure out what pattern to use. She likes florals, no applique (whew!), scrappy look is fine, wants a beige background, and wants pale green, green, and burgundy. She has a twin bed but no skirt so this one has to be bedspread size. I'm hoping to use a lot of my stash for it.

So, I'm open for suggestions! I even have a prize for the person who can offer me a simple pattern idea that will not take forever to make, and that will please a woman in her eighties who has enough pluck to call me on my birthday and ask for a gift!


Friday, February 1, 2008

More about the Canmore conference

I'm home answering backlogged email, doing backlogged chores, and sorting out a very messy desk. After five intense days of design classes, I thought I'd be anxious to get to the sewing machine, yet my mind seems to need a break.

I love the pattern I have drawn, and am going to enjoy the construction process, but let me back up a bit.

Before this class we were told to bring several "inspiration photos" of things that grab our attention. We were also told to bring several "color designs" that we like, either from nature or art that has stood the test of time.

In class, we picked from the inspiration photos one that we would like to make into a quilt. We did a simple sketch, loose, not with the detail of the photo. At the same time, we were asked to come up with a basic idea or design concept. This quilt is going to be about _________. This is sort of like a purpose statement.

Then we did several value studies, using our sketch only. We also tried viewfinders to see if a smaller portion would make a better design. All this time, the instructor reviewed principles of good art, good design. We also tried some fracturing. Would the quilt look better cut apart in some way, with the parts rearranged? All decisions regarding value, portions, fracturing etc. were to be made in light of our idea / purpose statement / concept.

After we settled on the size of the quilt, the final value arrangement, and so on, we were to take the color inspiration that we brought and get fabrics in a full range of values for the main colors. Wow, was that fun. I brought several, had to purchase a few, and decided my stash had the rest.

Then the instructor spent a long time telling us about construction methods that would suit our designs. No kidding, this woman (Elizabeth Barton) is good. She brought several designs to the front of the room and gave 5-7 different ways it could be constructed. She told each of us to work in the method that we liked the best, but also gave guidelines. For instance, if we wanted a sense of space in the piece, we should not use raw-edge applique because it tends to make the quilt look flat.

Mine will be done in Ruth McDowell's piecing method. I found it odd that I love that method, but the picture-piecing style of Cynthia England totally frustrates me. Elizabeth B. helped me realize some of the reasons, and even though the two styles are similar, with her help I now know what works for me and why.

After that, I did a detailed drawing in the size that I want the quilt. The sketch is the wrong proportions, so I used folding the sketch and a sheet of freezer paper to make a grid. This allowed me to not only enlarge it to 18" x 40", but also change the proportions.

I've not drawn an entire RM-type pattern (just parts, and have quilted several) but found that process was fun, almost like a puzzle. I've posted my initial sketches as they were on our design boards. Double-click to see detail.

When I take a photo of my drawing, I will post it. Hopefully someone out there will nag me until I finish it!